There are so many spirited recipes I’m excited to share with you, but most I considered for this post just weren’t right. For example, white bean, sausage and garlic soup made with bourbon was a top contender. Until I stepped outside. While it’s on the cusp of fall in many areas, here in central Florida the heat hasn’t given indication that it’s anywhere near ready to lighten up.
Almost everyday around lunchtime the humidity rises so much that your glasses fog up when opening the car door. The heat builds until around 5 p.m. when the clouds finally break open in afternoon thunderstorms. I love the rain so it’s not all bad, but it’s not soup weather either. The oppressive heat called for a booze-infused treat that was satisfying yet light and refreshing.
Creamy Tequila Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche fit the bill. I served this island delight with both Lime flavored and three cheese tortilla chips. Fill a pint with a cold Negro Modelo or a Corona Light and all you’re missing is white sand, Adirondack chairs and some waves.
What’s even better is that the majority of the work can be done ahead, which is great for entertaining and busy schedules. I prepared all the ingredients and placed the jalapenos, citrus, some of the tequila, spices and shellfish in a large Tupperware overnight (mixing in a non-reactive bowl is important). The following evening, I drained the mixture, added the bell peppers, avocado, a little more booze, tossed it with the sour cream and served it up with chips. It was a great pre-dinner snack to get through homework-time.
For some, trying ceviche can be a daunting dish. You want me to try seafood that hasn’t been heated? Yes, I do. And it’s true, this dish deviates from standards set forth by sushi-skeptics and fans of well-done burgers. Still, I say give it a try – especially if you like tequila.
When trying something completely new I would rather taste and determine whether I like it before learning exactly what I’ve gotten into. However, for those who like to know what they’re getting into, here’s a little ceviche brain candy. Those who already know and love ceviche may want to skip on to the ingredients and instructions.
The dish is thought to have originated in the coastal regions of Central or South America. It consists of seafood – fish, shrimp and scallops, alone or separate – tossed with other ingredients – peppers, fruit, garlic, etc. — after being marinated in citrus. The citric acid in limes, lemons and oranges causes denatured – or to change to a firm, opaque consistency as if it had been cooked over heat.
However, it is important to note that although the citric acid changes the food’s texture, it doesn’t kill bacteria. So it’s important to make sure your seafood is either very fresh or has been previously frozen. An article on Chow.com suggests those who love the dish, but fear it just the same, make “mock ceviche” by blanching the seafood ingredients before marinating them.
For this post I used only shrimp and scallops in the ceviche, but the recipe can be easily modified to include fish. In fact, when it comes to fish ceviche, your texture preference will determine how long you marinate. Ceviche can be ready as quickly as 15-20 minutes if you’re using just shellfish and flakier fish such as flounder, snapper, or sole. After soaking in citrus juices for just a few minutes, fish develops a firm, opaque exterior but maintains a raw, sashimi like interior.” However, if you’re using a fish that’s denser it may take closer to an hour before the desired texture is achieved.
Simple and uncomplicated, ceviche offers endless opportunities for experimentation. Hence the tequila, which combines with the citrus to add a refreshing zing. Moreover, the sour cream coats the mixture nicely in all of the flavors and tones down the innate citrus tartness, without a mayonnaise salad effect.
Don’t worry, white bean, sausage and garlic soup with bourbon will definitely have its chance in the spotlight on this blog; albeit after the thermometer consistently stays below 70 and the humidity drops to a level where it’s not necessary to flat iron my hair to look presentable. Fellow Floridians are thinking, Okay, so maybe January? Maybe. Possibly on one of those cool days that pop out of nowhere in October, then disappear for another six weeks.
This recipe was modified from The Gourmet’s Guide to Cooking with Liquors and Spirits.
1/3 Cup orange juice
¼ Cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons lime juice
Pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon of granulated sugar
½ Pound scallops
½ Pound shrimp
12 Grape tomatoes
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons finely chopped yellow bell pepper
½ Small red onion
1 Small avocado
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic (split)
2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons sour cream
4 Tablespoons tequila (split)
2 Cilantro sprigs (optional for garnish)
Corn chips for serving.
- In a non-reactive bowl combine the 1/3 cup orange juice, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 Tablespoons lime juice and 2 Tablespoons of tequila (The recipe calls for fresh squeezed juice, but let’s be serious. It was a work/school night for the love of it all. I used prepared juice from the bottle and the end result was very tasty. If you have the time though – go for it. Fresh is almost always better)
- Add pinch of sea salt, ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic and the ½ onion. These will help balance the acid of the citrus juices.
- Add the shrimp and scallops to the citrus mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for about an hour if you plan to serve immediately. If you’re making ahead add the jalapenos 1 Tablespoon of the fresh cilantro.
- After the mixture had marinated, drain the seafood in a colander.
- In another bowl combine the tomatoes, bell peppers and avocado.
- Add the drained seafood mixture.
- In another small bowl, combine the sour cream and the 2 Tablespoons of tequila you didn’t use for the marinade. Add this to the seafood mixture, stirring gently to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place ceviche in serving glasses and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
- Serve with corn chips.